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Jake Bequette and Chandler Jones could jump into the mix at the Elephant position.
Head coach Bill Belichick has utilized the Elephant position in years past to get the most out of his versatile pass rushers. This keeps an athletic big man on the field, whether or not the defense is in a 4-3 or 3-4 front seven.
The Elephant position has been manned by the likes of Willie McGinest, Andre Carter and Mark Anderson. Though with McGinest long into retirement, Andre Carter a free agent and Mark Anderson gone via free agency, who will step up?
The Patriots drafted two potential suitors for the spot: Chandler Jones and Jake Bequette.
Jones, one of New England's 2012 first-round picks, fits the mold for the job. At 6'5", 260 pounds, height and quickness are on the Syracuse Orangeman's side. At Syracuse, Jones never amassed more than 4.5 sacks in one season. Yet his raw talent could help him make his presence felt early on.
Bequette, the Patriots' third-round choice this year, is another youngster who could blossom under the Elephant's responsibilities. Standing at 6'5" with 265 pounds of bulk, Bequette was a sack machine at Arkansas. He totaled 17 sacks during his junior and senior seasons with the Razorbacks.
In April, the Boston Globe's Greg A. Bedard assessed how Bequette stacks up against Jones for filling the Elephant role:
He stood up at times at Arkansas so he would seem a natural for the DE/OLB hybrid Elephant position for the Patriots. Considering his experience and pro-ready body, it wouldn’t surprise if he contributes more before than 21st overall pick Chandler Jones – if they play the same position.
If the greenhorns can make a play for the Elephant's responsibilities, it would ensure continuity not only for 2012, but for years to come.
That said, Andre Carter could still be in the fold after recuperating from quad surgery, reports ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss.
In addition, the newly-acquired Trevor Scott could also be in the running for the Elephant, as he has experience at both linebacker and defensive end, cites the Globe's Bedard.
New England's defense needs a guy who can stand up on running downs and stick his hand in the ground on passing downs. As long as one of these players can establish themselves in the Elephant, the Patriots will be able to confuse offenses and put quarterbacks under duress.